Crisis Management for Employee Actions, or Don’t Tattoo Your Dog

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    When you own a business, the actions of your employees, even when not at work, can reflect poorly on you.

    Earlier this month, a New York tattoo artist employed by the Red Legged Devil tattoo shop owned by Chris Torres posted a picture to Instagram of him tattooing his dog, which was under anesthesia for a separate medical procedure.

    Animal rights proponents quickly figured out that Torres employed the man who had done the tattooing, and headed to the Red Legged Devil Facebook page to voice their displeasure, along with threats of action with the SPCA and other legal authorities.

    In terms of crisis management, Torres started in the right direction, then went waaaay off the mark.. His initial response was to distance himself from the incident, making it very clear the shop was not involved in any way. Unfortunately, his attitude was utterly unapologetic and insensitive – something that might fly in the tat biz but not when it comes to crisis communications.

    Even worse, after initially distancing himself he leapt right back into the fray on Twitter, fighting to support his employee’s questionable decision using a full arsenal of bad logic and elementary school insults:

    Torres dug himself a deeper and deeper hole as he repeatedly engaged in the type of back-and-forth arguments that social media crisis management pros warn against via both Twitter and Facebook, as well as dropping this absolute bomb of a quote in an interview with

    Reached for comment, Red Legged Devil owner Chris Torres was emphatic that the decision of his employee, Mistah Metro, to tattoo his dog had nothing to do with him. “The dog wasn’t tattooed at the shop—what [employees] do on their own time isn’t my business,” he said.

    Perhaps not, but Torres still has plenty of opinions on the matter. “People are still offered jobs after being pedophiles,” he said. “I don’t know why everyone is treating this kid like he raped a 12-year-old.”

    If anyone was still on the fence as far as Mr. Torres and his shop, we can guarantee that quote left them firmly on the opposing side.

    Despite his vehement defense, Torres did wind up firing the employee responsible for the dog tat, leaving himself down one employee and up a whole host of haters thanks to his complete and utter lack of respect or self control.

    You can’t completely prevent employees from doing things that aren’t so smart, but you can handle it properly when it happens. Plan ahead, stay cool, and you’ll minimize the impact. Become an angry, ranting insult machine and, well, we warned you…

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]